What happens to Obasanjo’s Coalition for Nigeria?
Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s endorsement of his ex- deputy, Atiku Abubakar, after more than fifteen years of intense rivalry shocked the nerves of not a few Nigerians.
But diplomats believe that there is no permanent friend or enemy in politics but permanent interest.
As the 2019 elections draw nearer, political actors with different ideology, if there is any, are vigorously setting aside a lot of issues, tirelessly realigning with a view to finding their footing by ensuring who becomes what at the end of the day.
While President Muhammadu Buhari is said to have attracted a lot of enemies by his actions and inactions, analysts believe those who think they would be better off without him at helm of affairs, feel it is better to support “lesser evils” during the next round of elections.
Obasanjo had for long “retired” from active politics even as he has remained visible in political discourse. And while many are of the view that he lacked any political value, nobody can dispute that his positive or negative verdicts carry some weight within and outside Nigeria.
His “negative salvo” on exPresident Goodluck Jonathan and support for then candidate Muhammadu Buhari ahead of 2015 elections had played key role in re-shaping political discussions.
Despite his purported nonpartisan posture, Obasanjo’s Otta residence has remained a Mecca of sort, with virtually every politician seeking relevance going there to pay homage.
To many aspirants, a single endorsement by Obasanjo would be like a dream come true. Many are already jubilating that perhaps, 2019 would be Atiku’s year of accomplishment.
But the big question is: why is Obasanjo comfortable supporting Atiku on the platform of PDP, the political party he ‘cursed’ repeatedly?
In January this year, Obasanjo in his ‘special statement’ mercilessly attacked President Buhari and called for the establishment of a third force, which he called the ‘Coalition for Nigeria’.
The coalition, he believed, would wrest power from APC and PDP, two parties he said had fallen short of the ideal.
In the statement titled ‘The Way Out: A Clarion Call For Coalition For Nigeria Movement,” he berated both the APC and the PDP, under which he became president and ruled for eight years.
And in May this year, the coalition fused into a newly formed political party, the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The Prince Co-convener of CNM, Olagunsoye Oyinlola, said the coalition had ceased to exist, having formally collapsed into a political party.
Oyinlola added that the ADC would field candidates for various offices including the presidency.
But some politicians yesterday cast doubt on Obasanjo’s credibility and his ability to live by his words.
The founder of National Democratic Liberty Party (NDLP), Alhaji Umaru Mohammed Maizabura, said Obasanjo who is nearing 80 should not be taken seriously.
“I am sure he has forgotten that that he had said so many things about Atiku. Obasanjo had said that it would amount to betrayal of Nigerians if he ever supports Atiku; now he has endorsed Atiku and I want Nigerians to judge him,” he said.
“He also said God should curse him if he ever support Atiku, we would now wait for God’s verdict on Obasanjo,” he said.
Maizabura added that the fact that Obasanjo dumped his CNM and the ADC he adopted for PDP, is enough reason to conclude that he cannot make any impact on his own. “He should have sponsored an untainted presidential canididate under ADC and win election...I think the fight we are going to face in the coming months is between us, the promasses who want Buhari and the the elite symbolized by the likes of Obasanjo,” he said.
Undoubtedly, Obasanjo’s verdict on ex- President Jonathan had generated debate in the past; but it is not yet clear if the clamour this time around would have the desired impact.
For now, handlers of President Buhari and candidate Atiku have all swung into action, vigorously working hard to outsmart each another in the political class board.
Obasanjo’s statement, however, came under heavy criticisms from the Federal Government.
The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), described the former President’s critique as insulting.
Sagay wondered why Obasanjo, who attempted to get a third term, would advise Buhari not to seek a second term.